“Since receiving our laptop, my family and I have been using it to study online which has been vital as lockdown continued and lessons moved online. Before that I’d asked the school to send work on paper or we’d try to use my phone. That was difficult, especially for one of my daughters because she wears glasses and found it difficult to read on a very small screen.”

The Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS) approached us in April to find out if we could support them in their work with adults and families across Leeds.  Since 2002 they’ve been providing assistance with access to education, re-qualification, training and employment to help their clients better integrate in their communities. With the onset of Covid-19, RETAS recognised the need for everyone to have access to a digital device and asked us to help. We were able to match up their request with a generous donation of 7 laptops from a local company.  Panintelligence are based across the city in Yeadon, and their CEO Zandra Moore personally dropped off the donations at Hyde Park Book Club and said:

“Home schooling kids is challenging, without a laptop it’s almost impossible. I know this having two of my own at home during lockdown, and the thought of not having access to a laptop was incomprehensible. The poorest in society are being left behind, Digital Action West Yorkshire made it so easy for us to help those who needed our spare laptops the most. I just dropped off our unused devices and they did the rest, resetting them and distributing to families. I cannot express my gratitude to the volunteers enough, this is an amazing project.  No one has an excuse – no laptop should be gathering dust right now!”

More feedback from RETAS included:

“My youngest daughter also studies using our laptop, especially with learning English. I am working on my Masters degree and need it for myself to study and upload information. The laptop has been really helpful for me and my family, sometimes my daughters are fighting to use the laptop because they want to study!”

Our dream team of technicians were able to quickly repurpose the laptops and get them to the RETAS team, who have distributed them to clients and supported their adoption in homes. As an organisation, RETAS empower people that they’re supporting in Leeds to help them build a safe and secure life here in the UK.  They’ve continued this during the pandemic with an increased demand for digital access and we’ve been able to help by partnering with businesses such as Panintelligence to make a difference.

“I use my laptop for online courses which use Google Classroom, BBC Learning and Zoom. It’s helped me a lot as it was very difficult to use Zoom and write when I was using my phone. The laptop is much clearer for me to see and I’m using it to study English entry level 3 with RETAS, and Functional Skills, Maths, and English at Leeds City College. I am also using the laptop for study towards The International English Language Testing System, managed by the British Council.”

We’re continuing to work with the team and other organisations across the region to match donated laptops and increase digital access.  Every laptop has an impact on somebody’s day-to-day life and these quotes from different recipients sent across from RETAS show what a difference each one can make.